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Local leaders react to guilty verdict in the Chauvin murder trial

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)

Local leaders and law experts are reacting after the former Minneapolis Police officer who kneeled on George Floyd's neck was found guilty Tuesday of all three charges against him.

Derek Chauvin, 45, was convicted on charges of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. The jury deliberated for more than 10 hours over two days in coming to their decision.

The Bishop of the Jefferson City Diocese W. Shawn McKnight released a statement, saying the country still has to face racism.

"While the trial of Derek Chauvin has finished and our justice system moves forward, we must still face the reality that we are not done with racism. In our own communities, including in the Diocese of Jefferson City, individuals are being humiliated and denigrated because of their race. Their human dignity is being crushed and defiled because they are seen as 'other' or 'less than.' Let me be clear: All human beings are our sisters and brothers, no matter their race, language or creed. Violence motivated by racism must stop."  

Bishop W. Shawn McKnight, Jefferson City Diocese

The minority leader in the Missouri House of Representatives Crystal Quade also released a statement saying this trial shows the justice works.

“Today’s verdict shows justice is possible when the system works as it should. Law enforcement reform is about ensuring the system always works as it should, without exception. No one, not even police, should be above the law. As the House considers bills in the session’s final weeks that seek to shield police from accountability and tilt the system against justice, lawmakers would do well to remember this day.”

Rep. Crystal Quade, (D - Springfield)

The President of 'Race Matters, Friends' in Columbia Traci Wilson-Kleekamp said she was impressed with the trial and prosecution in this case.

"Clearly they paid attention to past cases in way way the defense of policing is brought up," Wilson-Kleekamp said.

She believes there is more that needs to be done across the country, and locally.

"For me, I'm still in a place of painful hope because while it's an interuption in the criminal justice system, it doesn't fix it, and we are still trying to figure out interventions," Wilson-Kleekamp said.

She said she was pleased with how much care was given to the family by the prosecution, mentioning the several families in Columbia that have lost loved ones to violence.

"We seldom pay attention to the needs of victims, and I appreciated that a lot of (the prosecution's) comments were about how they were really engaged in taking care of the family," Wilson-Kleekamp said.

ABC17 News has reached out to leaders of the People's Defense group who lead several demonstrations over the summer but have not received a response.

The president of the Mid-Missouri Civil Liberties Association and Defense Attorney Dan Viets said this was the right verdict in his opinion.

"This kind of conduct should not be tolerated, it's intolerable," Viets said. "It's not civilized there was no excuse for the way George Floyd was treated."

He hopes this verdict will prove to law enforcement a that actions like that will not be tolerated.

"I hope it means other officers will learn from what's happened to Chauvin, that they'll learn that this kind of conduct is not going to be accepted, that there is a real risk of conviction," Viets said.

Former Cole County Prosecuting Attorney Bill Tackett said there was a "mountain of evidence" in this case against the defendant, including the over 9-minute video of the incident. He said this case likely won't change how other cases involving police are tried but may change the conduct of officers across the nation.

"There are officers that will see that they can be video tapped, their badge cam, their dashcam and that this kind of conduct can lead to a conviction," Tackett said. "We live in a video era."

He said with the amount of evidence in this case, he would have been surprised if the was completely acquitted.

"This was a very clean case in the sense that the prosecution did everything they could do with the evidence, and the defense, with what case they had, did everything they could do."

An MU Law Professor and criminal defense expert Rodney Uphoff said the defense really only had two strategies they could have taken, trying to prove Chauvinwas right to use force, and the the force did not kill Floyd.

"I think the defense strategy focused on the two possible defenses, but at the end of the day, the jury saw the evidence and saw no reasonable doubt," Uphoff said.

All three legal experts said appeals will likely be filed in the case. Uphoff said the defense team may appeal the case over jurors not being sequestered after the police killing of Daunte Wright near Minneapolis, and the announcement right before the trial that the city settled a civil lawsuit with Floyd's family.

"If I'm the defense lawyer, I'd complain to the judge, how can i get a fair trial when the city has already admitted their police officer was already at fault," Uphoff said.

This is a developing story, more from legal experts and local leaders will be added. Watch ABC17 News at 9 and 10 for a full report.

Boone / Cole / Court and Trials / Crime / Top Stories / Top Stories / Video

Connor Hirsch

Connor Hirsch reports for the weekday night shows, as well as Sunday nights.

Comments

3 Comments

  1. Paying Floyd’s family $23M goes a long way towards “taking care of them.” It also taints the entire jury pool, who had already lived through riots in their community, and threats to their personal safety and the safety of their families if a not guilty verdict was returned. The judge not allowing the defense request for a change of venue will probably lead to a new trial during the appeal. Then we have Democratic leaders like Mad Maxine Waters and many others calling for violence before the jury is sequestered. I am sure this did not have an impact on the jury.

    Will all these local leaders be equally supportive of the justice system if the case is overturned on appeal?

  2. I think it unlikely that it ever mattered what the defense case may have proven. What was proven was that a mob was ready willing and threatening to deliver destruction upon innocent people if he was not convicted. A verdict in self defense against that mob.

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